Sign the Petition

Friday, May 31, 2013

Follow the Money in City Council Race

An article in the New York Times today exposes a new PAC, Jobs for New York, which is attempting to influence the City Council elections.  

"A group of real estate executives and corporate leaders, bracing for the departure of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, plans to spend up to $10 million to make sure the City Council elected this fall is friendly to business. 
The organization, made up of real estate developers, property owners, banks, insurance companies, investment firms and others, has established a political action committee to direct donations to back candidates in both parties who support pro-development policies. 
Called Jobs for New York, the PAC represents an aggressive new involvement in New York’s heavily regulated city elections by a major independent expenditure group."

We are not endorsing any particular candidate for District 6, but we do think it's important to know if any of the candidates are being backed by organizations that want to promote further development of our neighborhood.  If would not be surprising if these same interested parties are backing the DOE proposal to build luxury high-rises above three schools in Manhattan.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

High School of Cooperative Technical Education - the other school.

Coop Tech is the third school mentioned in the ECF proposal other than PS 199 and PS 191.  I was able to visit this school yesterday and it is amazing.  This is a school for students not on a college track but for those who want to learn a skill and get out into the workforce.  A large portion of the school is essentially a factory for learning where welding, carpentry, electrician skills, green energy, automotive mechanics - 17 separate programs in all are taught.  Once students complete their course work the school has an active internship and job placement program.

I looked at this school and could not image how 1) it could possibly be moved on a temporary basis because of all the equipment and specialized set up, and 2) how it could exist with a luxury high-rise atop it.  If this school is chosen for demolition and re-development I'd like to hear from the DOE how they will preserve it and put it back together again.

But, the impression I really walked away with is that the city needs another 10 schools like this one.  For any kid not on a college track, what is better, more standardized testing or training for a real job?

You can check out their brochure here.

PS 199 Parents Speak Up!

A group of PS 199 parents posted a petition yesterday expressing their opposition to the proposed demolition and re-development plan for PS 199.  I can only assume that this is also a sign of their frustration with the wait and see attitude of others at the school.  In less than 24 hours they have amassed 174 signatures from parents.  This is amazing.

If you are a PS 199 parent and have not signed yet, check out the petition here.

Monday, May 20, 2013

United Federation of Teachers Article and Letter

We originally posted on the United Federation of Teachers article about the proposed demolition of the schools here.

Subsequently, they published our Letter to the Editor:

Parents oppose selling schools
MAY 16, 2013 NEW YORK TEACHER ISSUETo the Editor:
Thanks for your article “Schools for sale” [May 2]. The city and Department of Education are pursuing actions that are disruptive to students and parents, and expensive to the city in the long term, while providing little to no upside for increasing the quality or quantity of educational resources in the affected neighborhoods.

Read the full letter here.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Time Clock

Our district needs more elementary and middle school seats, and a dedicated District 3 high school.  These goals can be better achieved through the creation of new schools instead of rebuilding existing schools. Rebuilding schools would have negative impacts, including moving students to temporary schools, closing playgrounds, increasing the density of our neighborhood, increasing demand for student seats, and potentially losing an architecturally significant building (PS 199.)   We have previously outlined how this advertised Offering Memorandum / RFEI proposes a school that is at best marginally bigger than the existing school (we estimate 12 additional students for PS 199), with much of the space underground.

We have posted a time clock on the right column of this site.  This shows the amount of time that has passed since the DOE announced their proposal to demolish and re-develop three possible schools in the city on October 29, 2012. Today is the 200th day.

Below is the original announcement as it appeared in Crain's.  Notice that it is not presented as a first, preliminary step.  It is presented as, "The Offering Memorandum."  Further, on the back page of the supporting document (RFEI) it states, "CBRE is pleased to invite you to participate in the bidding for this premier investment opportunity."  To us, that does not read like a first step.  It reads like a request for serious offers for the property(s).

We see no downside in asking the DOE to engage with the community now.  Why wait?  What's the downside of standing up and speaking now?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

CB7 Beacon School Public Hearing

We attended the meeting tonight.  Based on the people, mostly parents, who spoke, there was near unanimous support for Beacon being re-purposed as a new middle school or a combined middle school / district 3 high school. This is something we can support: the creation of a new school for the district.  Every seat in a new school in the Beacon building will be an additional seat for the district - as opposed to the ECF/DOE proposal for PS 199 and PS 191 which, at best, creates marginally more seats and certainly no new middle school based on the proposal. Moreover, if the DOE moves forward with the demolition of PS 199 and/or PS 191, and Beacon is the space used for the temporary location of a school (which from what we've heard is the most likely outcome), then that decision will delay by years a new middle school for the district.

Big question:  Why is the DOE asking for public input about Beacon and at the same time proposing to demolish PS 191 and/or PS 199, which may require the use of Beacon?

Here is a summary of the meeting from the No to Redevelopment site.

Here the report in DNAinfo.

Press Coverage of the CEC3 Meeting

The CEC 3 meeting about the fate of PS 199 and PS 191 was covered by both The West Side Rag and DNAinfo.  Read the The West Side Rag coverage here.

The DNAinfo article was controversial.  Check out the comments.  It can be read here.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Wait and See or Wait and Let the City Do Whatever it Wants: A Note from the CEC3 Meeting

The PS 191 community - parents, neighbors and school administration are solidly opposed to the ECF proposal and they are speaking up about it.  PS 199 community residents are very much opposed to the proposal, the parents from what we hear are split, the PTA leadership is taking a wait and see approach.

One PS 199 parent spoke last night in favor of the proposal saying that she hoped to get a new middle school.  We hear this a lot from parents who are following the lead of the PTA. That is certainly a much needed  resource in our community.  However, being silent about it, taking a wait and see attitude, allowing the ECF/DOE/City to think that you have no objections to the current proposal is not going to get them to do anything about a middle school.

The question we posed last night to those who are waiting and seeing is:  what is the downside to speaking up now?  No one answered this directly. And, to the contrary, elected officials who spoke last night said waiting for an RFP or whatever the next step will be is too late.

If you don't ask for what you want you're not going to get it!  The good and right thing does not just happen when money and politics are involved.  The good and right thing happens when people speak up and demand what they want from their elected officials.

Bottom line: The needs of the community can be solved with less disruption, less impact on infrastructure, less destruction of treasured property, less dissipation of the public trust through the unwarranted sale of public assets - if the ECF/DOE/City focuses on building new schools instead of tearing down and rebuilding existing schools.

Meeting about the Future of Beacon High School

Will Beacon be a temporary location if PS 191 or PS 199 are demolished and redeveloped?  Will Beacon become a new middle school?

Summary of CEC3 Meeting from the PS 191 No Redevelopment Site

Where is the transparency?

by NoRedvelopmentMMS
At tonight’s CEC (Community District Education Council) 3 meeting for the Overcrowding, Charter Schools, & Space Utilization Committee, David Saphier said something very important we believe…
This is a community effort, not one school against the other.
We respect our sister school’s, PS 199, position of waiting for more information.  We do not oppose that for them.  And we are sure they respect our stance as well.  Our schools have a long history together.  Many years ago, well over 30, PS 191 was the K-2 school and PS 199 was the 3-6 school.  As our community grew around us, the schools changed to accommodate the needs of those around us.  Our school MMS/PS 191 is a Pre-K – 8th grade school.  In fact we often serve many Pre-K students that will eventually move to PS 199’s Kindergarten.  PS 199 is now a K-5 school.  It once held a Middle School, but overcrowding caused another change.  This is one point that drives our opposition.
It was mentioned several times at the meeting by various people, including our Council Member Gale Brewer, we need more seats available for our elementary students now and for the future.  We need more Middle Schools and High Schools too.  Our position is that we need more schools, not rebuilt schools.  Despite the RFEI (Request for Expression of Interest) appearing to have more space for each school, it is very deceptive.  The RFEI sq ft (this can bee seen in our unpacking of the RFEI in a previous post) only takes into account the current floors of each school that is above ground.  It clearly says the sq ft in the basement is unknown.  So the increase is unknown.  All schools still need their basement facilities.  Where else are you going to put all of the supplies, custodial materials, etc.  Our school has two classrooms that are technically at basement level.  Did they count those?
Several important points were made at the CEC meeting concerning this.  The first is the impact of the population that will be coming from the new building.  The schools will be filled before they are even reopened in their original space.  The next point made was that when the ECF (Educational Construction Authority) has replaced an existing school, the model was not successful.  When they try this and put in a brand new school, then they are successful.   Just check out the evidence, look up PS 59 on the East Side.  History shows this will be a bad idea for our school.
Everyone at the meeting agreed that this RFEI is poorly constructed.  There are so many problems with it.  Despite the discussions about ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) being involved, the RFEI says it is not required if the project is As-Of-Right.  They will not get involved, unless there is a special permit.  This is basically reiterated in the letter to Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal from Ben Goodman, Manhattan Borough Director of the DOE.  The same is said in a letter to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer from The NYC DOE Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm.  Please see the attached letter.  However, several people at the meeting commented that by the time this gets to ULURP, that there is not much left that could be done.  URLUP was accused of being a rubber stamp to proposals.  A concern that was mentioned during the meeting was would a RFP (Request for Proposal) follow.  This is usual but this RFEI is not usual.
Several of our elected officials have written letters to the DOE and ECF asking for more information.  The response has been and can be seen again in the letters to the Hon. Linda B. Rosenthal and to the Hon. Scott Stringer, that they do not have any new information.  They are still waiting to see the proposals.  The DOE declined the invitation to attend tonight meeting.
We thank Gale Brewer, Linda Rosenthal, and Brad Holyman for sending representatives that are supporting our efforts to stop the redevelopment for our school.   We appeal to Scott Stringer to help us now and not wait to see which community will be affected.  We need his support now.  We also appeal to the DOE and ECF to be more transparent and give us more information.

NoRedvelopmentMMS | May 14, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL:
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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What does the CEC 3 Do?

We've been promoting the upcoming CEC3 meeting.  Many people are not familiar with the CEC so here is a description from their web site:


     CEC3 is one of the 32 Community Education Councils (CECs) in New York City. CEC3 represents Community School District 3 which includes public elementary and middle schools. CEC 3 holds monthly meetings, and contributes to shaping educational policy in District 3.  
     CEC3's responsibilities are established by state law and implemented through regulations of the Chancellor. These responsibilities include: approving school zoning lines, holding hearings on the capital plan, evaluating community superintendents, and providing input on other important policy issues.
     Community Education Council members are selected for two-year terms by the Parent Associations or Parent Teacher Associations (PA/PTAs) of the schools in their district. Each CEC has 12 members, including nine parents selected by the district's PA/PTAs, two members appointed by the Borough President, and one student selected by the Community Superintendent.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

United Federation of Teachers reports on Schools for Sale

From the UFT New York Teacher Issue:
The offer sounded like a typical enticement to developers by a property owner eager to cash in. 
The owner “is pleased to offer for your consideration three prime development sites” in Manhattan that present “truly special opportunities” to build luxury high-rises of “significant height and tremendous views.” 
But nothing about this appeal was typical. 
The three sites proposed for redevelopment are public schools that together serve about 2,300 students: PS 191 and PS 199 on the Upper West Side, and the School of Cooperative Technical Education (Co-op Tech HS) on the Upper East Side.

The article mentions that some P.S. 199 parents are hoping for a new middle school:

PS 199’s parent association hasn’t taken a position yet, although some parents say they may consider the proposal if the new school includes a middle school, which the neighborhood desperately needs.
Yet, we've demonstrated, which you can read here, that with the existing proposal this is not possible.  Additionally, the PTA co-president, Eric Shuffler is also quoted expressing concern that the proposed school may not be able to accomodate any more students  than the existing school.

“Some parents have said that it seems stupid to do this just to rebuild a school,” said Eric Shuffler, PTA co-president at PS 199. “They’ve asked, what’s the point to even have a conversation about this if we end up with the same number of seats?”
And the lack of transparency from the DOE is glaring:

Parents and educators have more questions than answers. Where and for how long would students and staff be relocated as one school is torn down and a high-rise is built? What kind of amenities would they have to do without while they are relocated? In deals clearly aimed at unlocking development dollars, would the affected school receive some of the money generated? Will the community have a real say in what gets built?
 Read the Full Article here.

Friday, May 3, 2013

P.S. 191 is also Fighting Redevelopment Plans

Teachers at P.S. 191/MMS have launched a web site and a petition to fight the DOE and ECB over the redevelopment of their school.  Just like P.S. 199, the RFEI released by the ECF is calling for the demolition of the existing school and replacing it with a new school and luxury high-rise.

Go visit their site and support their efforts.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Meet the Candidates for Manhattan Borough President

This is a great opportunity to question the candidates about issues important to our neighborhood like the potential demolition of P.S. 199.

Monday, May 13, 2013, 7 PM
Council House
241 West 72nd Street (between Broadway and West End Avenue)

Manhattan Borough President Candidates

Gale Brewer
Jessica Lappin
Robert Jackson
Julie Menie